What Is Rainbow Capitalism? Exploiting The LGBTQ+ Community For Profit.

Every year during Pride month, companies show their support of the LGBTQ+ community by changing their social media icons to feature the pride flag in some way, putting up pride flags at their stores/offices, and selling pride-themed merchandise among many other things.

This show of support of the marginalised LGBTQ+ community by corporations has been criticised by homophobic conservatives for “promoting gay idealogy” and by the LGBTQ+ community itself for being “superficial”. This superficiality is more rooted in reality and is the core reason why this move by corporations is called “Rainbow Capitalism”.

The term ‘Rainbow Capitalism’ originates in the late 20th century, not as a negative term, but to refer to queer spaces and gay bars owned by corporations. When the gay community was identified as a cultural group with little to no pandering, their spending power (called “pink money”) was monopolised by companies who showed silent shows of support through word-of-mouth advertisement which lends them plausible deniability if they are ever under fire from homophobic attacks. 

In the late 2010s, as LGBTQ+ acceptance grew in the Millennial and Gen Z generations across the global north, Companies that hadn’t ever shown any support for the minority group, started pandering to the community with minor shows of support like changing their Twitter profile picture to a logo with pride flag colours and tweeting an advertisement targeted towards the community to hopefully persuade them to purchase their products/services.

The superficiality is obvious as the regional Twitter accounts of these companies in countries which don’t support the LGBTQ+ community or have laws against the community do not feature such support. The partial implementation of support by these corporations is a clear indication of them not actually caring about LGBTQ+ rights, but only about their monetary value.

This year, when Anheuser-Busch-owned beer brand Bud Light was the target of a homophobic protest for a simple collaboration with a transgender Tik-Tok influencer- Dylan Mulvaney; the harassment of employees at the supermarket chain- Target, for featuring a pride section to sell pride-themes merchandise, many companies have realised that their pandering to the LGBTQ+ community, despite its profitability, will cause a prolonged homophobic attack.

Companies popularly fund political parties in various countries to ensure their financial well-being. This funding helps the party campaign and get more votes than the other. The parties that these companies donate to are parties that will not hinder their profits with regulations or policies, the same party typically tends to be extremely hateful of the LGBTQ+ community as both homophobia and laissez-faire capitalism fall on the political right.

Rainbow Capitalism is nothing but exploiting the struggles and fights of queer activists in the past and present and preying on the emotions of queer people in the present, for their money. Donations to LGBTQ+ groups to advertise support towards a marginalised group does not paint over the years of donations to homophobic politicians. Under capitalism, human rights are only feasible when they are profitable.

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